Brighton lead way for re­turn of fans with plan to host crowd pi­lot

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Tom Mor­gan

Brighton are front-run­ners to be­come the first Premier League club to wel­come back spec­ta­tors when the Gov­ern­ment an­nounces more de­tails on the re­sump­tion of crowd pi­lots this week.

White­hall sources con­firmed pro­pos­als to al­low 2,500 fans into the Amex Sta­dium for pre-sea­son fixtures had been con­sid­ered as part of plans which could also in­clude crowds at Women’s Su­per League games and the FA Tro­phy and FA Vase fi­nals at Wem­b­ley in the com­ing weeks.

If the first pre-sea­son trial at the Amex goes ahead with­out prob­lems this week­end against un­de­clared op­po­nents, an­other one will be ar­ranged for next month, with po­ten­tially dou­ble the num­ber of fans. Covid-19 rates are on the in­crease again across many parts of Eng­land, but Gov­ern­ment and sport re­main de­ter­mined to open up most sport­ing are­nas from Oct 1.

The FA Tro­phy and FA Vase fi­nals later next month would host the big­gest pi­lots of all, with up to 10,000 sup­port­ers in the sta­dium – and with fans at­tend­ing from more than one club.

The first out­door sport­ing crowd will be in Scot­land, how­ever, with Friday’s Pro14 rugby match between Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow War­riors be­ing played in front of 700 sup­port­ers at Mur­ray­field.

The Depart­ment for Dig­i­tal, Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport re­mains hope­ful that sup­port­ers will re­turn from Oc­to­ber – as an­nounced by Prime Min­is­ter Boris Johnson last month – de­spite the post­pone­ment of test events in other sports.

The Gov­ern­ment has set a limit of 30 per cent ca­pac­ity when foot­ball fans re­turn to sta­di­ums. That ceiling is ex­pected to be chal­lenged by the Premier League.

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